Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Convention center's double dose of do-gooding

How's this for recyling a double shot of do-gooding? Each year, hundreds of groups come to the Charlotte Convention Center for meetings, conventions and trade shows.

When they're gone, they leave behind a surplus of notepads, pens, pencils and registration bags. Now they can donate them to Classrom Central , a partnership forged by Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and the nonprofit "store" that provides free supplies to 132 schools in the Charlotte region.

Last month, the COAL-GEN conference, which drew thousands in the coal-fired power industry, left town with 1,200 unused satchels and tons of pens, pencils and pads -- all perfectly fine for school use. This week, Classroom Central got all of it.

Score one for the green movement -- the stuff didn't end up in landfills -- and one for teachers and students who need school supplies in a difficult economy.

"We should have a very positive impact on Classroom Central's goal of providing students with the supplies they need to be successful," said Tim Newman, the authority's CEO. "Our meeting planners are increasingly environmentally concious, as well as interested in doing the right thing for the community."

Classroom Central supplies students at high-poverty schools with donated school supplies and classroom products through the free store for teachers. In its first seven years, the nonprofit has served more than 80,000 students and distributed more than $17 million in school supplies.

The idea for the partnership came from the convention center's Susan Schwint. "She said, 'we have conventions that want to give back to the host community. What they leave behid is perfect for students,'" said authority spokeswoman Molly Hedrick. "It's just another example of what can happen when someone connects the dots."

The supplies from the convention center couldn't come at a better time for Classroom Central. Already in the new school year, the nonprofit has seen a 25 percent rise in teachers using the store.

"We know these items will be put to great use," said Michelle Daley, Classroom Central's head of operations. "We're extremely excited about partnering with the Charlotte Convention Center to divert items from landfills and provide the teachers and students we serve with ... materials that can be used in the classroom to enhance the learning process."

So the next time you see a teacher or student carrying a satchel with COAL-GEN printed on it, you'll know where it came from -- and where it didn't end up.


Toni Freeman said...

That is an excellent idea. Thank you for your commitment to our community and your leadership.

Anonymous said...

Good idea. Does Class Room Central have a method to call on all trade shows for the left over items?